Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Editorial March 2011 e-issue #21

By Nickolas Cook
The Black Glove Magazine

With a new release hitting the shelves in a proper way, I've been working my butt off making sure the edits were done, the actually publishing date was accurate, and trying to set up book signings for this HUGE release, the biggest I'm likely to ever enjoy in my writing career. So it's left me little time to write anything--fiction or non-fiction. It's ironic that getting published actually eats up most of the time you would put towards writing new material. But that's the way it works in the publishing industry. You are needed to keep on top of what most author's call "unproductive time"--meaning you ain't gonna be writing any new material during this time. It's going to be all work for the new work coming out.
But I have this little blog magazine that means a lot to me...and I presume to the over 8,000 people who read it every month (sometimes it's more, but that's the average). So I feel that we, the staff who works tirelessly each month to write content for free (like myself, they don't get paid, folks), have such a vast love for the horror genre that we want others to know that horror's history in books, film, music, comics and games is worth remembering. We love to talk about the thing that we feel such passion about.
One of the things that I always feel was a huge influence on me growing up in the 70s and 80s was horror on television.
Yes, for the most part, it was turgid and limp entertainment compared to what I could see on the big white screen at the local drive-ins, but there were times when TV had an edge on the drive-in. I know, I know...I talk a lot about the year 1979, but this was an important year for me as a little Horrorhead. There were some extraordinary things going on in the horror world that year, and those things helped me become the man I am today--for better or worse.

In 1979, CBS had a showing of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot", a book that revolutionized modern horror. King was simply continuing the tradition which Richard Matheson began with his quiet landmark horror novel, "I Am Legend" (1954), by bringing Gothic horror into the modern age, in essence creating the Urban horror novel, set in contemporary times, with creatures of the night usually reserved for the old Gothic stylings of Poe, Machen and Lovecraft.

With King's TV movie, the stage was set for a horror uprising. And, boy, did horror ever change from that point onward. 1979 was a HUGE year for horror, King being one of the reasons why this was such a big time for the genre. We will probably never see such an explosion of interest in the genre ever again. It's very doubtful those particular stars will ever align in such a way again. So be thankful, I guess, for that decade or so of horror love we got to enjoy.
But back to "Salem's Lot". It was Big Steve's 2nd novel to be published, written in 1975, following the huge print and cinematic success of his 1st novel, "Carrie". "Salem's Lot" was an incredible piece of writing...hell, it still is. I mean, it really holds up to the rigors of time. It's gory, frightening and revelatory all at once. His characters feel like honest to God real people, as most of his characters do. But there was such a bleakness to the novel that one must be prepared for the unhappy ending. King knows his strengths in writing and he's not afraid to let the unhappy ending be the ending we get. He doesn't follow the trends. And he knows we're all mostly miserable bastards and really crave seeing others suffer more than ourselves. Right? Of course, it's true. He knows it and he writes to that part of our human nature.

But back to the television film. It was directed by the then famous "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" director, Tobe Hooper, who would later go on to direct some other fantastic films, but also way too many shiity ones. But back then he was riding a huge wave of success in Hollywood and people were throwing projects and money at him left and right. His 4th film was King's "Salem's Lot". They were made for one another, of course. These two were roughly the same age and had much the same passion for horror. Hooper and King walked hand in hand into horror history with this TV film. Starring then mega-star on television David Soul and Hollywood classic actor, James Mason, this was one for the record books. To have someone like James Mason playing in a horror movie, even one for TV, meant horror had arrived for real.
It was originally 4 hours long, but was later shaved down to 2 hours for cable TV. Trust me, when I say the 4 hour version is a must.
This was back when TV had a strangely contradictory censoring guideline. Horror was sometimes very, very frightening on TV, but you weren't going to see any bouncing boobies with your scares, not like the drive-ins. But it was still scary enough to cause some nightmares.
Not now, of course. Things have changes drastically in the entertainment industry, especially in television. TV now is scary for a whole different reason. It couldn't get any more brainless than what you find these days.
But back in 1979 there was still a chance you could get the crap scared out of you by a good made-for-TV horror flick.
This month I decided to post the entire movie in our editorial, so I could help remind Horrorheads why this movie was such an important production and addition to the genre. Presented below in 19 10-minute segments from YouTube, enjoy it...


Salem's Lot (1979) Part 1

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 2

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 3

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 4

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 5

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 6

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 7

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 8

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 9

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 10

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 11

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 12

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 13

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 14

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 15

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 16

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 17

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 18

Salem's Lot (1979) Part 19

--Nickolas Cook
The Black Glove Magazine

Staff Profiles

Nickolas Cook (editor-in-chief)
Publishing Credits: Nickolas has had dozens of short stories and non-fiction reviews and articles published in print and electronic formats. He has been the fiction moderator for Shocklines.com for over four years. To date, his two published novels, THE BLACK BEAST OF ALGERNON WOOD (Dailey Swan Publishing), BALEFUL EYE (currently in pre-production with new publisher) and ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND 2nd Edition with Sourcebooks 2011, all of which have received several positive reviews and he’s been said to display a true craftsmanship missing in much of modern horror. His first short story collection, 'ROUND MIDNIGHT AND OTHER TALES OF LOST SOULS was recently released from Damnation Books.. He also has two new releases forthcoming: PAINT IT BLACK (early 2011 from Dailey Swan Press).

Personal Info: Nickolas lives in the beautiful Southwestern desert with his wife and three wonderful Chinese Pugs, who are worse than little children…the dogs, not the wife.
Visit me at my official website, THE HORROR JAZZ AND BLUES REVUE
He also has a very active Facebook page
Or email him at Nickolasecook@aol.com

Steven M. Duarte (Co-Editor)
Personal Info: I have always been interested in horror culture from a very young age. I enjoy all aspects of the genre from movies, video games, books to music. I have a soft spot for foreign horror films most notably Italian made ones. I especially enjoy zombie horror films and have made it my mission to try and view any and all movies involving zombies.
Favorite films: Day of the Dead, Suspiria, Zombi, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and Deep Red, just to name a few.
I primarily listen to heavy metal but enjoy all different types of music. I have been a diehard Slipknot fan since the start and continue to be a supporter of the group. I also enjoy listening to horror soundtracks especially by the Italian group Goblin.

Shaun Anderson has spent many years researching and writing about different aspects of horror culture and entertainment. This interest led him to a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Film Studies, with the ever present spectre of a possible doctorate in the future shadowing his current movements. His major film interests include the Italian giallo, British horror (especially the productions of Hammer and Amicus), Asian horror, Cult film and European exploitation. His film reviews can be located on his own regularly updated blog The Celluloid Highway.

Bill Breedlove: In addition to his short fiction collection Most Curious, his work has appeared in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, RedEye, InSider, The Fortune News, Restaurants & Institutions, Encyclopedia of Actuarial Science, Bluefood.cc and Playboy Online. His stories can also be found in the books Tales of Forbidden Passion, Strange Creatures, Tails from the Pet Shop, Book of Dead Things, Cthulhu and the Coeds and Blood and Donuts.
In 2006, Bill founded the small press Dark Arts Books with co-publisher John Everson. The mission of Dark Arts Books is to create affordable trade paperback collections featuring multiple stories by four authors each. We publish sampler anthologies of some of the finest writers in modern horror. Dark Arts Books’ titles include: Candy in the Dumpster, Waiting for October, Sins of the Sirens, Like a Chinese Tattoo, Mighty Unclean and When The Night Comes Down.
In 2009, LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology.
Bill’s horror film screenplay Last of the True Believers won a competition sponsored by DAILY VARIETY where the prize was a trip to the Cannes Film Festival to meet with Hollywood producers and executives.

He lives in Chicago with his wife and Maestro the Dog and Sophie the Pigeon.

MyMiserys (aka Kim Cook)
Personal Info: Kim lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, Nickolas Cook, and a pack of Pugs. She met Nick in 1997 in an old AOL Horror chat room and they married a year later on Halloween 1998. She has had a passion for horror novels since the tender age of 12, when she read The Exorcist (before it was made into a movie). Her favorite author, other than Nick, is Stephen King, and she truly considers herself his “Number One Fan”. She has been reading and collecting King’s books since “Carrie” was first published. When she is not reading, Kim bakes …and bakes and bakes. You can see pictures of her wonderful cakes on her MySpace page and Facebook. Each month Kim asks a featured author “13 Questions” so Black Glove readers can get to know a little about the person behind the books.
Guilty pleasure? MeatLoaf...the man...not the entrée.
URL: MySpace

Carey M Copeland has worked in television, radio and film. He has been a special effects artist on several film and TV productions, through The Joe Blasco Makeup Academy of Orlando Florida. Having worked at Sally Industries (now Sally Corp) , he helped design dark ride exhibits around the world, including the E.T. ride at Universal Studios Florida. Carey has been a lifelong horror fan and knew after seeing a rerun of “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD” that he wanted to make monsters for a living. Carey says, “I love the creativity of the movies from 1930’s to 1990’s. It seems that with the creation of more affordable computers, the solid effects artist has become almost extinct. When you see a movie now, it’s almost all CGI, with practically no hands-on sculpting and molding. ”

Bill Lindblad has been a bookseller specializing in horror and other genre fiction for roughly fifteen years. He is a regular contributor to the writing blog Storytellers Unplugged and has been a staple at conventions for almost a quarter of a century (as an attendee, dealer, panelist, auctioneer and convention staff.) Bill is an unrepentant fan and has taken this out on the pets... as ferrets Mughi (Dirty Pair) and Boingo, cats Gamera and Shane (after Shane MacGowan) and black labrador Grue (Dying Earth and Infocom games) could attest were they able to talk. His wife makes him watch too many strange movies.

Jenny Orosel has been published in fiction and nonfiction for the past nine years. She is also an avid baker and candy-maker (having only set a kitchen on fire once). She has also appeared in numerous game shows, worked on two feature films, and won an award for her first animated short film (also including fire, this time on purpose). When not writing or making sugary treats, she is forcing Bill to sit through some of the strangest movies he’s ever seen.

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter and the author of four non-fiction books, including THE CINEMA OF TSUI HARK. She is a three-time winner of the Bram Stoker award, a recipient of the Black Quill Award, and has published over three dozen works of short fiction. Her first novel, THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES, has received rave reviews since its release in early 2010 (by Gray Friar Press), and her newest novella, THE SAMHANACH, is a Halloween treat from Bad Moon Books. She lives online at http://www.lisamorton.com

Karen L. Newman lives in Kentucky where she's an active member of "Horror Writers Association" and edits "Illumen" and "Cosmic Crime Stories". She edited the online magazine, "Afterburn SF" for over four years before the market closed. Over three hundred of her short stories and poems have been published both online and in print in places such as "Dark Tales of Terror", "Dead Worlds: Undead Stories", and "The Pedestal Magazine". Her poetry collections include EEKU (Sam’s Dot, 2005), ChemICKals (SMASHWORDS, 2010), and Toward Absolute Zero (Sam’s Dot, 2009). She blogs for the Apex Book Company. Her poetry collections include EEKU (Sam’s Dot, 2005), and Toward Absolute Zero (Sam’s Dot, 2009), which can be purchased online at
http://scifi.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=78123 or
She won the 2005 Kentucky Mary Jane Barnes Award and two of her poems received honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She's been nominated for a Rhysling Award, James B. Baker Award, and twice nominated for a Dwarf Star Award.
Please visit her online at: http://home.zoomnet.net/~karennew
Contact Info: carynnaeNOSPAM@hotmail.com and leave out NOSPAM when contacting
Fav Movies: SAW, Rocky Horror Picture Show

Brian Sammons has been writing reviews for years for such places as the magazines Cemetery Dance, Dark Wisdom, Shock Totem, and The Unspeakable Oath. His reviews have also appeared on many websites like The Black Seal, Bloody-Disgusting, and Horror World. Wanting to give other critics the chance to ravage his work for a change, Brian has also penned a few short stories that have appeared in such anthologies as Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, and Monstrous. Some of the magazines where you can find his twisted tales are Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, and Dark Animus. For more about this guy whose neighbors describe as “such nice, quiet man” go here: http://www.freewebs.com/brian_sammons/

Jason Shayer
Publishing Credits:“The Ranch” – Necrotic Tissue #6
“No Man’s Land” – Dead Science Anthology (Coscom Entertainment)
“The Toll” – Hideous Evermore Anthology (Shadowcity Press)
Personal Info: Jason Shayer's 12-year-old mind frame has given more than a few people a reason to raise an eyebrow, most often his wife. When he’s not writing or reading, he’s teaching his three year old daughter and three week old son the finer points of zombie lore.
URL: http://marvel1980s.blogspot.com/
Contact info: jshayer@yahoo.com

Stabbed in Stanzas: Very Important HWA Announcement

By Karen Newman

For my column this month I just want to announce that I'm Chair of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award jury for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection. If anyone has information about horror poetry books published in 2011 please send it to stokerpoetry@horror.org

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MURKINESS and other stories, ed. George Locke
Ferret Fantasy, Ltd. released this book in a limitation of 1000 copies, in 1973. It's scarce enough that people are unlikely to happen across a copy, but not so scarce that it can't be purchased for a comparatively low price. This is good, because the book is worth buying.
It isn't a particularly long book, and in no way is it as worth hunting as it used to be. That's because the title story, long out of print, has been reprinted by Chaosium for their Antarkos Cycle book. It's a parody of At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft, written by Arthur C. Clarke.
Yes, Arthur C. Clarke, before the "Sir" and when he was only recently past drinking age. One of his first published stories, in a fan magazine, was this silly but witty spoof of not just the story, but Lovecraftean fiction.
The story, written in 1940, is the newest story in the collection. Other pieces parody Fergus Hume, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Machen, H. Rider Haggard, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne. Most are from the turn of the century, and all are enjoyable pokes at famous stories.
The greatest flaw of the book is its brevity. The book runs to 108 pages, which should be fine for a small press trade paperback; unfortunately the publisher uses large type, wide spacing, and wide margins to pad the book. Anyone but the slowest of readers is likely to finish the final story and wonder where the remainder of the book is. This is my only real concern with the book; the stories are solid and production values are high and a nice copy can be purchased for about the same price as a new hardcover... not common for a nearly 40 year old limited edition.
Again, though: Arthur C. Clarke sending up Lovecraft.
Three stars out of five.

DEATH AND THE SPIDER by Grant Stockbridge
In January, 1942, The Spider adventure magazine celebrated its hundredth issue with a story in which the Spider was fated to die, as prophecied by the Tibetian mystic who had taught him many of his tricks.
The Spider was an attempt by a rival magazine company to capitalize on the popularity of The Shadow. It was somewhat successful; although the character never achieved Shadow or Doc Savage levels of fame, he has become a favorite of some and is on the highest tier of the second-string pulp adventurers. He was, as was common at the time, a millionaire who secretly fought crime under an alias and after having received special mystical training. He was better than other men... slightly faster, slightly stronger, slightly more agile and quicker to respond. He had a gnarled, hideous mask that was somehow convincing enough to deceive others into thinking it was his true face, but which could be attached or removed almost instantaneously. He was a marksman for whom any military would have traded a tank. In other words, he was a typical pulp action hero, albeit flashier than most.
This was a defining issue; it was considered key enough to be chosen as one of the attempted update and relaunch in the early 1970s (where the Spider was somehow transformed on the cover to be a Mack Bolan clone... blonde hair, muscles, and a turtleneck... in complete contrast to the interior description.) It has one of Spider's most powerful nemeses, and a lot of action. What it does not have is a reasonable storyline.
He's faced with someone who is capable of creating illusions, moving without being seen and triggering homicidal rage in otherwise normal people. His teacher returns for this issue, and acts to block some of the effects from the Spider. This is fine, within the context of the story.
Where it fails is in the villain's motivation and activity. Sometimes these powers are directed, sometimes they are not. The subplots hinted at earlier are never resolved. The antagonist's actions often show appallingly poor planning.
On the up side, there are some great horror elements for the horror fan. Outside of the typical adventure story gunplay there are slit throats, a crazed ax murderer, a black mass and a berserker slaughter with knives. This is not particularly unusual for the Spider, which is a reason why he has fans among horror readers.
The hero can be fun, and it is worth hunting down many of his adventures. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.
Two out of Five.

GHOUL LOVER by Robert Tralins
The 1970s was a good decade for authors who wanted to write horror series. One of those series was The Frankenstein Horror Series, which despite the title often had nothing to do with Frankenstein. Instead, each book focused on a classic horror trope and assigned it to a competent author. Authors for the series included Frank Belknap Long, Paul I. Fairman, and Otto Binder, all of whom had established a solid reputation as science fiction and fantasy authors.
In this case, the central character was the mad scientist. The story tells the history of Count von Cosel, an amazing prodigy who is visited by visions of a beautiful woman. He is the reincarnation of a brilliant ancestor and dabbles in both magic and the hard sciences. Because the girl exists beyond space and time, she is able to tell him the general location when and where she will be born in the future, so he may be ready to meet her when she reaches an appropriate age.
Wanting to spend eternity with her, the Doctor and his assistant spend their time attempting to create the perfect serum to prolong or resurrect life. This is where the book fails; in attempting to move the plot, the completely brilliant Doctor takes a set of completely stupid actions.
Normally, I would criticize this more, because it's typically a sign of a lazy writer; rather than shift their expected ending a little, they'll treat their outline as if it were set in stone. In this case, however, I grant the author more leeway.
While not referenced anywhere in the book, this story is based on a real event. Dr. von Cosel, who obsesses over Elena Hoyos in the book, is inspired by Dr. Carl von Cosel, a.k.a. Carl Tanzler, a.k.a. Georg Karl Tanzler. Elena Hoyos is inspired by the real life Elena Hoyos. The doctor's obsessive treatment is inspired by the real thing. The doctor's graverobbing and seven year necrophiliac relationship with the corpse is inspired by the same incident in the real world.
That said, while the real story is disturbing, the book is less so. By inserting a supernatural element into a true life horror story, and by spending the majority of the book tracking von Cosel's life, the author keeps the reader from developing any real sympathy for the Doctor's victims. An interesting (if racially offensive) character developed early in the story is jettisoned. The book simply occasionally read as if it were more of a movie storyboard or book outline than a novel, and as such it suffers from the worst affliction of any horror book; it's not remotely disturbing or unsettling.
Three stars out of five.

This novel was written in 1989 during the height of the splatterpunk ascendancy, and it's described in those terms on the back cover copy. It's not a splatterpunk novel. At least half of the violence in the book is performed in dreams, both regular and daydreams, with no result other than to disturb the dreamer.
Instead, the novel is a character study, alternating between an abused child and a night worker at a juvenile detention facility. We are introduced to both of them, focusing most on the child, Steven. He has a bad home life, and the prospects for escaping abuse or living a normal life seem bleak. His mother is a drunk, his father is missing, his sister is a tramp and her boyfriend is a local hero because he's on the small town football team... even though the team typically loses.
The child, Stephen, has had his ego crushed and merely wants to hide. Jeter shows us the resilience of childhood even as he lays out the nightmare this kid is living through. The author has a very deft touch, creating a completely believable set of characters. As with many of his novels, there are no truly heroic people, just some who are flawed and some who are repugnant. In his science fiction, this can be a problem, as the novels have a bleakness; in horror, the book is well served.
Four stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

Movie vs. Book: The Lottery


Director: Daniel Sackheim

How do you take a five page short story and turn it into an hour and a half TV movie? It’s a lot harder than you think, and The Lottery almost made it.

The Shirley Jackson story takes place in a small, two hour period, and focuses on just the event itself. The movie version has to extend it out. Added is the tale of Jason whose father has just died. On his deathbed, his father requested his ashes be scattered on his wife’s, Jason’s mother’s, grave. Only thing is, she died when Jason was five and he has no idea where. Two minutes of investigation, and he finds the name of a small town in Maine. Once there, all sorts of mystery surrounds the nature of her death. Was it sudden and violent the way his father said, pneumonia as some in the town say, or did the father murder her, as others claim? If you’ve read the story, you can see where it’s going from there. And wouldn’t you know it, but he just happens to show up the week of that year’s lottery.

It could have been more interesting if they’d focused on the event itself more and less on Jason. Yes, I understand his quest is needed to extend out the tale to 90 minute length. But instead of being a creepy and haunting little tale, you have exploding cars and an expectedly doomed love story. In fact, his love interest, the daughter of the woman eventually chosen by the lottery, has a long monologue defending the tradition, and her own throwing of stones at her mother. It explains way too much. In the story, you’re left wondering how people could be so comfortable with human sacrifice in this day and age. She explains it all away, and takes with her some of the great mystery that left you thinking once the story was over.

I guess if you’ve never read this story it might be a good movie. It was exciting, paced well, had believable performances and a decent script. The story for the movie was decent. However, knowing the story and knowing the quiet horror it created, The Lottery left me feeling sad. Not for the characters, but the lost charm of the story.

-- Jenny

BOOK: THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson

This short story is one of the classics of American literature. It is taught in schools, it has been anthologized throughout the world, and it is the defining work for an author who had an impressive body of writing, both fiction and nonfiction.
It is a character piece, but in this case the character is the town in which the lottery takes place. And by town, I am referring to the society, not merely the landscape or the local buildings. By focusing on the interactions between members of a small village Jackson manages to provide the reader with enough information to allow them to fill in the gaps in the story intuitively. While not giving complex sketches of the characters behind the names, the comments which come from them or the simple actions they take allow the reader to define them either by archetype or by substituting people the reader knows.
Once she has crafted a group of people who are on the whole very familiar and sympathetic, Shirley Jackson uses those people to deliver a message. As with much classic literature, exactly what message is being delivered is mercifully left to the reader. It might be that the mindless following of tradition is dangerous. Or that the individual has value outside of their simple contribution to the group. Or any one of a dozen other meanings.
It is a wonderful story, and it is one of the key horror stories of the twentieth century, particularly among those which aren't normally seen as horror like "Flowers for Algernon" or "The Nine Billion Names of God".
Five stars out of five.


Fresh Blood: New Releases In the World of Horror

compiled by Nickolas Cook and Steven M. Duarte

In Book News...

Contact Vince A. Liaguno, HWA Stoker Event Organizer - vliaguno@aol.com

March 2, 2011

Horror Writers Association announces
2010 Bram Stoker Award Nominees

Each year, the Horror Writers Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in the field of horror writing, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work Dracula. Since 1987, the approximately 500 members of the HWA have recommended, nominated and voted on the greatest works of horror and dark fantasy of the previous calendar year, making the Stokers the most prestigious award in the field of horror literature.
Currently the awards are presented in eight categories: Novel, First Novel, Long Fiction, Short Fiction, Fiction Collection, Anthology, Non-fiction, and Poetry Collection. The organization's Active members will select the winners from this ballot, and the awards will be presented this year at a gala banquet as part of HWA’s Stoker Weekend, held June 16-19, 2011 in Long Island.
This year’s nominees in each category are:

HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
ROT AND RUIN by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
DEAD LOVE by Linda Watanabe McFerrin (Stone Bridge Press)
APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
DWELLER by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (Doubleday)

BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
SPELLBENT by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)

THE PAINTED DARKNESS by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
DISSOLUTION by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
MONSTERS AMONG US by Kirstyn McDermott (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
THE SAMHANACH by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

RETURN TO MARIABRONN by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
1925: A FALL RIVER HALLOWEEN by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
IN THE MIDDLE OF POPLAR STREET by Nate Southard (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
FINAL DRAFT by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)
OCCULTATION by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY by Stephen Graham Jones (Prime Books)
FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
A HOST OF SHADOWS by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)
DARK FAITH edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
HORROR LIBRARY IV edited by R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
MACABRE: A JOURNEY THROUGH AUSTRALIA’S DARKEST FEARS edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin's Griffin)
TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)
DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
WILD HUNT OF THE STARS by Ann K. Schwader (Sam's Dot)
DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White (Needfire Poetry)


More information on the Horror Writers Association is at www.horror.org. More information on the Stoker Weekend is at http://www.stokerweekend2011.org/ .

And more from the fine folsk at th Horror Writers Association...


March 22, 2011

The Horror Writers Association has chosen two long-time icons of the genre to receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award this year. The award, given in recognition of the recipient's overall body of work, will go to Ellen Datlow and to Al Feldstein.

Ellen Datlow is unquestionably one of the most influential editors in the history of the horror genre. Her long-running The Year?s Best Fantasy and Horror (which she co-edited with Terri Windling, Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant), and, more recently, The Best Horror of the Year, have helped define the art of horror writing since 1988. Other acclaimed works she?s edited include Inferno, Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror, Lovecraft Unbound, The Beastly Bride (with Terri Windling), Teeth: Vampire Tales (also with Terri Windling), and Haunted Legends (with Nick Mamatas). Forthcoming are Supernatural Noir, Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy, Blood and Other Cravings, and the young adult dystopian anthology After (the last with Windling). She was fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and SCIFICTION and has won multiple Locus Awards, Hugo Awards, Stoker Awards, International Horror Guild Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and The Shirley Jackson Award for her editing. She was named recipient of the 2007 Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention for "outstanding contribution to the genre." Ellen also co-curates the long-running Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series in New York City?s east village. Ellen, who will be attending the gala Stoker Awards presentation in Long Island on June 18 to receive the award in person, said, ?WOW! I'm honored, and a bit taken aback--I've still got a lot more editing to do (I hope). Thank you.?

Al Feldstein is one of the most influential figures in the history of horror comics and graphic novels. Al arrived at the legendary company EC Comics in 1948, and went on to serve as one of the chief editors of EC?s ?New Trend? series, which included Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Shock SuspenStories, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime SuspenStories, Panic and Piracy. Feldstein originally contributed one story per issue as both writer and illustrator, but he eventually decided to focus on editing, providing art only for covers. He adapted stories by Ray Bradbury, and gave Harlan Ellison his first sale. His EC work has been reprinted in dozens of different editions, and has been adapted to film (The Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt). He is a recipient of the 1994 Inkpot Award from the San Diego ComicCon, and has also been recognized for his work as a painter. While Mr. Feldstein?s health will prevent him from accepting the award in person, he had this to say: ?I am flattered beyond belief and deeply appreciative of the very special honor that you have bestowed upon me...mainly your organization's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be named the recipient of this Award.?

The Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious of the Bram Stoker Awards, given by the HWA in acknowledgment of superior achievement not just in a single work but over an entire career. Past Lifetime Achievement Award winners include such noted authors as Stephen King, Anne Rice, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, F. Paul Wilson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Brian Lumley, William F. Nolan, and Peter Straub. Winners must have exhibited a profound, positive impact on the fields of horror and dark fantasy, and be at least sixty years of age or have been published for a minimum of thirty-five years.

The LAAs will be presented on June 18 as part of the Bram Stoker Awards presentation in Long Island. The awards highlight an entire ?Stoker Awards Weekend?, happening from June 16-19 at Long Island Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. For more information on the Stoker Awards Weekend, please visit the website at http://www.stokerweekend2011.org/.

The Horror Writers Association is a worldwide organization promoting dark literature and its creators. Started in 1985, it has over 500 members who are writing professionally in fiction, nonfiction, videogames, films, comics, and other media.

To learn more about this year?s winners, visit them online. Datlow can be found at www.datlow.com and Feldstein at www.alfeldstein.com .


Note: The Stoker Weekend and the awards banquet are open to the public.
For more information about the HWA, the Bram Stoker Awards, or the Lifetime Achievement Awards, please visit www.horror.org.


James Newman announces the release of his new novel, Animosity, available April 1 from Necessary Evil Press.

Animosity is the story of Andrew Holland, a bestselling horror writer whose life starts to mirror the fictional nightmares of his novels after he finds the body of a murdered child not far from his home. Though the authorities clear him of any wrongdoing, as weeks pass with no arrest the local media insinuates connections between the gruesome subject matter of Andy's novels and his tragic discovery. In a community tainted by suspicion and paranoia, Andy soon finds himself a pariah, and fears he might not make it out of his once-idyllic neighborhood alive. Subtitled "An American Horror Story", Animosity is a modern-day morality tale in which the monsters wear familiar faces . . . rather than bloodthirsty vampires or brain-eating zombies beating at the door, these are our friends, our families, our peers . . . .

Animosity has received advance praise from a number of established authors. Rick Hautala (Ordinary Demons) called the novel "a great story filled with tension and genuine horror . . . this book will entertain you even as it shows the worst in human nature and our struggle to rise above it", J.F. Gonzalez (Survivor) said it "echoes the works of Bentley Little and George Orwell", and the novel features a special Foreword by award-winning novelist Ray Garton (Live Girls).

James Newman's previously published books include the novels Midnight Rain and The Wicked, a short story collection, People Are Strange, and several novellas, including Holy Rollers and The Forum. The film rights to Animosity were optioned pre-publication, and a screenplay is currently being shopped around Hollywood.

The signed, limited hardcover edition of Animosity can be ordered directly from the publisher, Necessary Evil Press (www.necessaryevilpress.com), or from online bookstores such as Camelot Books (www.camelotbooks.com), and the Horror Mall (www.horror-mall.com). Additional information can be found on the author's website.

Uninvited Books announces the release of the eagerly awaited new novel from horror maestro Robert Dunbar. WILLY is a one of a kind book which many critics are hailing as this horror generation's CATCHER IN THE RYE. If you've never read a book by this extraordinarily talented author of such horror classics as THE PINES (1989) and THE SHORES (2009), and his award winning short story collection, MARTYRS AND MONSTERS (2009), do yourself a favor and pick them all up. And be sure to add WILLY to your horror library. No one is writing horror like Robert Dunbar.

In Film News...

Release date: April 1, 2011
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Ty Simpkins, Barbara Hershey
A supernatural thriller from the director of the original Saw film, Insidious follows a story of a haunting. The difference amongst other haunted movie films is the couple’s child is the one that is haunted and causing the supernatural occurrences.

Scream 4
Release date: April 15, 2011
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayde
Wes Craven is back in the director’s chair for the newest installment in the Scream franchise. According to press releases the film will carry a hard R rating taking the route of its predecessors. Many of the previous cast from the original Scream are back for another “stab,” at it.

--Steven M. Duarte

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)
Review written by Steven M. Duarte

Director: Ti West
Cast: Rider Strong, Giuseppe Andrews, Judah Friedlander and Noah Segan

The long delayed sequel to Eli Roth’s gore fest finally hit home video back in 2009 to little fanfare. The film was reportedly finished in 2007 but went through numerous cuts and eventually was shelved for over a year. It’s never a good sign when your own studio is afraid to even release a film after its been completed. Director Ti West of “House of the Devil,” fame reportedly requested to have his name removed from the project once the film went through heavy cuts. The project turned into something different from his original vision. So with the bad news out of the way how is the film.

Well you can definitely tell there were issues with the making of the film. The characters are easily forgettable and the story seams pieced together to make one giant blob of a film. I’m not sure if scenes were re shot or just removed when the re editing happened but something is quite off with this film. I really cannot put my finger on it but you just get that feeling while watching the movie from beginning to end.

The film lacks the tone the prior film had. There is no feeling of isolation, no feeling of helplessness that a flesh eating virus is tearing through your body. While the original Cabin Fever was no masterpiece, Eli Roth did a decent job of setting a tone with the previous mentioned feelings.

One thing the film does have going for it is the gore. There are some decent effects seen in the film. One notable scene involves a male’s reproduction appendage and the effects of the skin eating virus on said appendage. I did cringe during this scene. It takes a lot for me to cringe when seeing gore in films but this one just scratched me the wrong way. Needless to say a majority of the other gore effects get the job done. We have teens vomiting blood and flesh eating virus covered tits.

Final Thoughts:

The film could have been so much more considering the potential that was the original Cabin Fever. A decent premise was set for the sequel but yet we have another example of some fuck head studio executives who basically think they’re smart enough to figure out what people like. Had they allowed director Ti West to film and edit how he envisioned the sequel, this may have been a very different review.

1 1/2 OUT OF 5 STARS

--Steven M. Duarte


By Brian M. Sammons
Directors & Cast: various

This is one of those four-in-one combo DVDs by Echo Bridge. They’ve released a bunch of DVDs like this recently, each bundled around a theme and this one deals with slashers. Now whether or not these movies are good or bad, there is one undeniably good thing; the value. You can get this DVD new on Amazon for about seven bucks, which is less than two dollars a movie. That’s less than a rental. Flicks just don’t get any cheaper than that. However, is there a reason for that? Does the old saw, “you get what you pay for” hold true here?

Sadly yes, but does that mean I’m going to tell you to pass on this DVD?

Surprisingly no. Let me explain.

This DVD collects the movies: HOBOKEN HOLLOW, SECRETS OF THE CLOWN, ROOM 33, AND CURTAINS. Now even if you are a diehard horrorhead like me, chances are you’ve only ever heard of one of these movies, and that’s for good reason. Three of the four films are modern (2006 or later) direct to DVD budget titles in every sense of the word. Good for maybe a few laughs, no chills at all, and quickly forgotten.

Then there is CURTAINS from 1983. Remember that game from SESAME STREET, “one of these things is not like that others”? Yeah, that’s this movie’s inclusion on this DVD in a nutshell. To be sure, CURTAINS isn’t a classic bit of 80s slasher fare like FRIDAY THE 13TH, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and the like, but it is quite good, enjoyable, well made and acted. In short, nothing like the other three movies on this disc. CURTAINS is also one of the last few, “ah man, when is that movie coming out on DVD?” flicks. That’s right, this slasher has never been released on DVD before.

Too bad then that this is the only way this movie is now widely available. Yeah, it’s not too good folks. The video transfer looks like it came right off an old VHS, complete with a faint hiss on the audio track. Keeping with the barebones theme, and yes, the bargain price as well, there are no extras for any of the four movies whatsoever. Now for the other three movies, I could care less, but the only reason I picked up this DVD was for CURTAINS and really, it deserves a lot better production then what it gets here. If it was released on its own disc, with a decent transfer and maybe a few extras, it would easily find an eager audience of horrorheads waiting for it. I firmly believe that, and just as fervently hope that one day Echo Bridge gives this movie the long awaited release it deserves.

But hey, could it be possible that you’ve never seen CURTAINS? Well then, let me educate you.

An actress checks herself into an insane asylum without telling any of the docs she’s not nuts, all for her director boyfriend so she could really nail the part of a mad woman. Unfortunately being around crazy people 24-7 just might be more than the actress can take. After a long stint in the booby hatch, the director stops coming to visit and leaves the actress in there so he can go make his movie without her. Instead of the shunned actress, the director gets six pretty young things and invites them out to his sizable, and snowbound, house in the woods for some intensive auditioning. Hmm, six young starlets, an isolated house surrounded by forest, and someone with a definite axe to grind, gee what could possibly go wrong?

Oh, and if you think I’ve given too much way by this brief teasing bit, well I haven’t. Yes one by one people start getting bumped off in true slasher fashion, but there is quite a lot of style to go along with the rather formulaic plot to save it from the same old, same old. The most memorable bit is a killer on ice skates and wearing an old hag mask, speed skating their way towards a bit of bloody fun with a sickle. If you have ever seen this movie, you’ll remember that scene. There is also a nice whodunit thrown in for good measure. That’s right, if you think you know who the killer is just by what I’ve told you here, then you just might be in for a surprise.

As for the other three films in this collection, I’m not going to discuss them here for a number of reasons. First and foremost, to do so would make this review way too long. Also, they’re just not really worth discussing. I watched all of them and while none were absolutely horrible, and I did get a few chuckles out of two of them, none were really any good or noteworthy. At best they can be an enjoyable watch for fright fans. That said, I must point out that even these movies, despite being less than five years old, have the same poor video quality as 83’s CURTAINS. No matter how you slice it, that’s pretty damn bad.

Now if it sounds like I’m trashing this DVD, I’m not. I’m being critical, and that’s kind of my job, being a critic and all. However I said at the start of this review that I wasn’t going to recommend you skipping this DVD and there are two reasons for that. First and foremost is the film, CURTAINS. While it should have been released in a better way, with a much better picture, this is the only game in town right now if you want to see this very good slasher. The second reason is the previously mentioned value. Four films, over six hours, just seven bucks. Good, bad, or ugly, that’s a heck of a deal. So until CURTAINS gets a better DVD release, this one will have to do. So consider this one recommended, if only just.

--Brian M. Sammons

Foreign Fears: Black Sabbath (Italy) (I Tre volti della paura, The Three Faces of Fear (1963)

review by Steven M. Duarte

Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Boris Karloff and Michèle Mercier

For this month’s Foreign Fears Feature I went back to the vaults for the Mario Bava classic Black Sabbath. The film was one of the first to introduce the trilogy of fears approach that many filmmakers would end up using years later. Black Sabbath tells the tales of a nurse who steals a ring from an elderly patient of hers, a woman who is terrorized through phone calls while at home alone and lastly the tale of a Russian count who comes across a family of vampires.
Pretty much anything Mario Bava is worth watching at least once. Black Sabbath is one that’s worth more than one viewing. Specifically you will find that the film tends to have more suspense and overall creepiness factor than majority of your newer horror films. Horror great Boris Karloff lends his talent to the third tale the “Wurdalak,” where he plays a Russian count who stumbles upon a covenant of vampires while traveling through the country side of Russia. Karloff and Bava prove to be a strong duo in cinema both on and behind the cameras.
One of the greater known stories within Black Sabbath is “The Drop of Water.” Various scenes in this story will leave lasting impressions on you and will surely invade your dreams. The three stories, while different in subject matter all carry a dreadful tone and feeling. The horror is suspenseful and downright uncomfortable at times. Something that I haven’t felt much with many of the newer Hollywood releases that we come and go through the years. If you consider yourself a horror fan that you should already be on multiple viewings of Black Sabbath. If not you owe it to yourself to view not only one of the best Italian Horror titles out there, but one of the best horror titles of all time.

--Steven M. Duarte

Brian Sammons Hi-Def Horror Hoedown!

PHENOMENA (1985) – Blu-ray review – Arrow Video

Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi

Arrow Video from the UK returns to knock out another Dario Argento classic onto Blu-ray disc. The good news for us on this side of the Atlantic is that this disc is region free. But is this import worth paying the little extra to get it sent here? Let’s find out.

PHENOMENA, released in North America as CREEPERS, is one of Argento’s weirder films, and if you know his body of work then you’ll know that’s saying something. Listen to this, a very young Jennifer Connelly plays the daughter of a famous actor who can talk to and control all sorts of insects. That alone would be a full movie in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, but wait; we haven’t even gotten started with the weird yet. Anyway she is sent to a very exclusive girl’s school in Switzerland that just so happens to have someone with a collapsible spear murdering young girls and leaving maggot-infested gloves behind. She meets Donald Pleasence as a wheelchair-bound entomologist with a chimpanzee as his nurse and best friend and the two decide to become armature detectives looking for the murderer with the aid of a carrion-loving fly (no, really). They manage to find the lair of the mysterious spear-spree-killer and that’s not only when the blood really starts to hit the fan, but it’s also just the beginning of WTF moments. Oh and did I forget to mention that Jennifer’s character sleepwalks a whole lot while having vivid visions of a glowing white hallway? Yeah I don’t know why, and the movie never explains it, but she does. Anyway, I won’t give away the totally crazy ending, but I will say that as far out of left field as it is, I loved it. Oh and the Iron Maiden song that comes out of nowhere, twice. Yeah, that was pretty cool too.

Hey you know those movies where people say “Aw man, you’ve just got to see it to believe it”? Well PHENOMENA is a prime example of one of those. Luckily for you, it’s an Argento flick which means it looks simply amazing so your eyes will be entertained while your mind is being blown. I tell you, if there was one director born for high-def, it’ Dario Argento and his masterful use of color. This new Blu-ray has PHENOMENA looking better than ever before.

However good looks are only half of what this package has to offer. It also has the usual goodies you’ve come to expect from Arrow Video. It has a double-sided wall poster and double-sided case art (thus giving you four options to choose from for showing off you Blu-ray.) As for on-disc extras there’re three of them here. The first is an hour long making of doc called “Dario Argento’s Monkey Business” with interview from many of the filmmakers, including Dario himself. There’s a six minuet interview with composer Claudio Simonetti called “Music for Maggots” and lastly a twenty minuet Q&A session with Sergio Stivaletti, the special makeup effects artist for this, and many Argentto films, called “Creepers and Creatures”.

Come on people, it’s Argento and Arrow Video back together again. Consider this one highly recommended.

INFERNO (1980)– Blu-ray review – Blue Underground

Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi

America’s Blue Underground and UK’s Arrow Video have been playing a little game with horror releases. When it comes to bringing out classic fright films out on Blu-ray, the two companies have been releasing a number of the same movies within a very short time span. Sometimes Arrow will bring it out first, other times it’s Blue Underground. Now it is not my intention to start comparing both Blu-rays of the same movie produced by these two titans of terror discs, but I thought I’d do that at least once, and that time is now. Besides if you want to know about this movie, a movie you should already know all about if you’re a horrorhead worthy of that illustrious title, you can check out my none-too-old review of it here: http://the-black-glove.blogspot.com/2010/09/brian-sammons-hi-def-horror-hoedown.html

First, let’s talks about the video quality of these two Blu-rays. Both the Blue Underground (BU) and Arrow Video (AV) present crisp, clear, vibrant images, and for an Argento film, that is all important. Dario is a master of light, shadow, and most importantly; color and high def Blu-rays are the only way to watch his movies, but with BD does it better? Well this is a very close call, as like I said, both look great, but there is a slight difference between the two. The BU release looks a bit more like film while the AV disc is a bit more buffed out. Now it depends upon your personal taste, but I’d rather have the film look over the almost slightly too plastic look that old movies sometimes get when they have been digitally enhanced to the max. So for me, the newer Blu-ray Blue Underground gets the nod, but only by a little bit.

On to the sound. Sure both sound good, but Blue Underground offers English 7.1 dts, English 5.1 surround, English 2.0, and Italian mono. Arrow’s Blu-ray has English 5.1 dts, English stereo, and Italian mono. So for offering more and higher end choices to the consumer, Blue Underground takes this one handily.

Now for something that really has nothing to do with how much you enjoy this movie, but they are things that I do really love; the extras on the disc. BU has three interviews. One with actor Leigh McCloskey at 15 minutes, another actor Irene Miracle at 14 minutes, and the third is a combo interview with Argento and assistant director Lamberto Bava at 8 minutes. A trailer and a short intro from Argent is all that they have. Since this isn’t a review of the Arrow Video edition of this movie, I won’t recount all the extras it has. Again, if you’re interested, check out my other review. But I will say that the AV Blu-ray has many more extras that last a lot longer. So for bonus material, sadly this new one from Blue Underground is a little lacking.

Lastly, since we live in the really real world, price is important. The short answer is if you live in the UK you’ll probably want the Arrow Video release, but if you live in North America then Blue Underground will have the disc for you. The BU Blu-ray can be found on Amazon.com for $20.99 and other such sites for about the same price. The AV one is £16.99, which once converted to US bucks is $27.64. Then there is the pricey shipping from Europe and it’s easy to see that Blue Underground wins the price battle.

So what does this all mean? Well both Blu-rays are great, but the new one by Blue Underground is the winner. Better picture (slightly), sound, and price. The only thing about it that could have been better was the number and length of the extras. So if you have yet to get this awesome film on Blu-ray, now you really have no excuse. You can get it March 29th.

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1 – Blu-ray review

Created by: Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Jon Bernthal

Is there any horror fan out there that does not already know about this amazing series, let alone haven’t already seen it? I mean, as far as horror on film, video or whatever, THE WALKING DEAD was easily the best thing to come out in 2010. Nothing else came close. But just in case you’ve recently woke up out of a coma, or perhaps crawled out of your own grave, let me give you the skinny about this awesome TV show now that it has now been released on Blu-ray.

Comic book readers already know about the multi-award winning, ongoing series by Robert Kirkman. The book has been around for a number of years now and it easily deserves all the accolades it has, and will continue to get. It is character driven story so that the living people in it come off as real and aren’t just there as zombie chow. It is in all ways great and wonderful, but when word that AMC was going to bring the comic books to TV, the fans all asked, “how the hell is that going to happen?” I mean a very gory, adult-oriented zombie story that deals with a lot of hard, unpleasant things happening all the time, just how the hell was that going to fly on basic cable? HBO and SHOWTIME is one thing, but AMC is bound by the moral watchdogs over at the FCC, so there’s no way all the glorious zombie gut munching from the comics were going to make it into the TV show, right?

Well surprisingly not only did the show fly like a champ, but it has some Grade A gore. However as nice of a surprise as the intact blood and guts is, it is only one of the things that make this show so great.

With stories by Kirkman, the afore mentioned special effects overseen by KNB’s Greg Nicotero, and Frank Darabont , one of the best directors in the game (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE GREEN MILE, THE MIST) not only producing and writing, but directing the pilot episode, how could this show not be awesome? I mean that’s a lot of talented people lending their considerable knowhow to the effort and it shows.

At its core, THE WALKING DEAD is a show about survival. A cop is wounded in the line of duty and slips into coma, only to awaken some time later into a nightmare world populated by the walking, hungry, murderous dead. And yes, if that sounds a lot like the “zombie” flick, 28 DAYS LATER, you’re not the first one to make that observation. Anyway our main hero, Rick, first goes one a journey to find his missing wife and child and then tries to lead them, and a small band of survivors to safety. Along the way there is the ever present threat of the zombies, but just as the real stars of the show are the human survivors, the real threats just might be other humans, either driven mad or looking to take advantage of the chaos to indulge their own, wicked appetites.

But wait, I hear some of you say, what if you read the comic books, is the TV show just a rehash of them? Short answer is thankfully no. While the characters and basics of plot are there, enough of it has been changed so that fans of the comic will still find plenty of surprises here. While the pilot was a fateful adaptation of Kirkman’s comic, things start changing in the second episode and by the end of the season the story has taken a turn that was never even hinted at in the comic book series. The merits of that change can be argued by the fans, but the fact that new twists and turns are being introduced into the show, while still keeping the majority of the story that made the comics so great intact, is a good thing.

In addition to the two discs containing the six episodes of the first season, the Blu-ray has a number of extras and featurettes including a half hour general overview of the series called “The Making of The Walking Dead.” Additionally, each of the six episodes also has a short (ten minutes or so) special focusing on the specifics of their episode. Kirkman hosts a short “sneak peak” of the show and Nicotero has a “Zombie Makeup Tips for Halloween” that you can do at home with every day, household items. Highlights from San Diego’s Comic Con’s Walking Dead panel with the creators and producers, trailers, and six deleted scenes and on set interviews round out the extra undead goodness these Blu-rays have to offer.

Getting this Blu-ray set is a no brainer. Sure, not every episode is stellar (name me a TV show that does that, if you can) but far more than not are winners. Nothing like this has been on television before and it is just simply amazing that it is on now. Shows that dare to take chances, and succeed so wonderfully, should be celebrated and supported. Do your horrorhead civic duty and get these Blu-rays today. The fact that you’ll have some very good television to watch in glorious high definition, well consider that a bonus.

VAMP (1986)– Blu-ray Review – Arrow Video

Director: Richard Wenk
Cast: Grace Jones, Chris Makepeace, Robert Rusler, Dedee Pfeiffer

VAMP is one of those classic 80s vampire flicks that seemed to have slipped through the cracks. While everyone remembers films like FRIGHT NIGHT, NEAR DARK and THE LOST BOYS, this movie, their contemporary and equal in cool factor alone, has become one of the long lost and little remembered. Well UK based Arrow Video remembers it and has decided to give it back to the masses, now in glorious high-def. But just in case you’re one of the many who have let this one slip under your radar, here’s the skinny behind VAMP.

Keith and AJ are two cool college guys looking to get into a fraternity, but in order to do so they must hire a striper for an upcoming party. Unfortunately for them, the make the huge mistake of going to the “big city” with their nerdy sidekick, looking for the After Dark Club. After running afoul of an albino street gang, they find the club and are quickly mesmerized by the exotic (and exceptionally strange) Grace Jones who is not only the queen of the strippers but also the queen of the vampires. After one of the buddies gets the juice box treatment, the rest team up with a spunky waitress with a mysterious past and make a run for their lives. Unfortunately they are stuck in a very weird, hostile, rundown city with vampires, albinos, and murderous garbage trucks all looking to do them in.

VAMP is one of their rare horror comedies (hormedies?) that really pulls it off. It ping pongs back and forth between funny and frightening, but there is surprisingly a lot more to it than that. There’s a delightful sense of the weird running throughout and the color scheme of purple and green gives it a nice visual style often missing in horror films. The direction is very good and all the actors do their jobs well. Chris Makepeace is the embodiment of the nice guy, Robert Rusler is the quintessential cool guy, Dedee Pfeiffer is great as the ditzy blond, and Gedde Watanabe (of SIXTEEN CANDLES fame) is perfect as the nerdy comic relief. Even Grace Jones, who I never really liked in earlier roles like CONAN THE DESTROYER and the James Bond film, A VIEW TO A KILL, is really good here as the titular VAMP. Hmm, maybe that’s because she never once utters a single word? Whatever the case, it all works out well. VAMP has always been one of my favorite flicks that I could namedrop and enjoy the looks of confusion on the faces of my friends. Well now that it’s out on Blu-ray, that may change, but I’m ok with that.

To further make this Blu-ray a must buy for vampire lovers everywhere, Arrow Video has once again provided the goods, both on and off the disc. Those on the disc include three chunky interviews with director Richard Wenk, actress Dedee Pfeiffer, and producer Donald P. Borchers, that all together total over an hour. There’s the short “Scrapbook of Scares” featurette that focuses on press releases and reviews collected by director, Wenk. There a short bit of behind-the-scenes rehearsals of Grace Jones’s first vamp attack, bloopers, trailers, and perhaps the coolest bit; a comedic short film by Richard Wenk called “Dracula Bites the Big Apple”. However I did find one thing missing that I thought was a big disappointment; no audio commentary. The old DVD from America’s Anchor Bay had a great one, and I really don’t know why Arrow couldn’t send them a few bucks to use it here. It’s a pretty big missed opportunity. Oh well, as far as off the disc goodies there’s a double-sided wall poster, a double-sided Blu-ray case cover, and a seven page collector’s booklet.

VAMP is a great, unique movie and if it’s missing from your home movie collection, and chances are it is, then this is a great way to get it; on Blu-ray for the very first time. It’s never looked, sounded, or been better. It’s recommended.

SCREAM 1, 2 & 3 (1996. 1997, 2000)– Blu-ray review

Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox

SCREAM 4 is just around the corner and that’s both a bad and a good thing. It’s bad because with the trend that Wes Craven’s last few films have taken (CURSED and MY SOULD TO TAKE jump quickly to mind) the old master horror may have lost his touch and just might be happy to phone it in now. But it’s good for two reasons. First, at least it’s an honest to goodness sequel and not another damn remake. Second, stuff like this always means that the old movies get the update and upgrade treatment. So now we have the first three SCREAM movies on Blu-ray from Lionsgate and Miramax. Let’s grab a knife, open these babies up and have a look.

Now I’m sure you’ve all seen the first movie or at the very least, know about it. After all, whether you love it or hate it (and there are plenty of people on both sides of that fence) it is undeniable that SCREAM revitalized horror in the otherwise horror-free 90s. However, just in case you’re one of the very few horrorheads that don’t know about these flicks, here’s the nickel tour. SCREAM is at its heart a pretty basic slasher movie. A killer is bumping off high school students, dressed in a black robe and a white “ghost” mask, reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s famous painting, “The Scream”. The novel approach this slasher takes is calling his victims up to have them play horror movie trivia and if they lose, they die.

SCREAM gained some fame for its famous director (Wes Craven) who gave the world Freddy Kruger, and its far-too-pretty and way-too-hip cast. However what really set this movie apart was is self-referential attitude and all the winks and nods it gave to horror fans. Now it is true that another film did that first (it’s called THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE and I just reviewed it, so look it up if you’re interested) but whether or not SCREAM “borrowed” anything from that far lesser known film is up to debate, but what’s not beatable is how acclaimed and influential that first movie was.

The second movie takes the survivors of the first film; perfect victim Sidney, goofy but goodhearted cop Dewey, ruthless reporter Gale, and horror movie obsessed Randy to College and pretty much more of the same. Someone is killing off coeds dressed as Ghost Face as the movie based off of the murders from the first movie called “Stab” draws near. To be sure, this sequel has its moments but nothing really new is done so the film walks the line between good and just ok.

SCREAM 3 wraps up the trilogy with long lost secrets being discovered, a whole new crop of victims trying to film another “Stab” flick in Hollywood, and a lot more self-referential humor that pokes fun not only at horror movies, but the people who make them. Unfortunately the twists and turns this movie tries to pull off are pretty outlandish and the occasional odd bit (like Jay & Silent Bob showing up) just seem really out of place and self-indulgent. Easily the weakest of the original trio, I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come with the upcoming movie.

As for special features, all three Blu-rays have audio commentary tracks with director Craven and various behind the scenes others (but sadly no actors). The first movie rightfully has the most featurettes. There’s some behind the scenes stuff, a Q&A with the cast and crew, and the usual press release-like feature. In addition, trailers and TV spots can be found on all of the Blu-rays. SCREAM 2 has some outtakes, deleted scenes, a brief behind-the-scenes bit and two music videos (why?). The third film has deleted scenes, a brief behind-the-scenes thing, another music video, and an “alternate ending” that really differs only minutely from the official ending. It seems to me that these movies could have, or perhaps should have, had some more goodies to offer, but the extras here aren’t bad.

If you’re a fan of Ghost Face then now you can finally see him do the slice and dice in high-def. The movies look and sound really good, there are enough special features to entice, and they are priced affordably. If you are missing these from your home horror collection, or you just want to upgrade, these Blu-rays are for you.

--Brian M. Sammons


By Nick Cato


During the early 80s uprising of home video film renting, I would often scan the bottom shelf of my local video store’s horror section, looking for something I had never heard of. And thanks to exploitation film guru Harry Novak and his “Frightful Flicks” VHS double-feature series, I rented KILL AND GO HIDE (which is on DVD today as THE CHILD), a weird, low budget horror film that actual works on some levels bigger budget productions never do. And the VHS cover was covered in dust on the bottom shelf when I rented it around 1983, indicating many had passed over this seldom-seen gem.
Alicianne (man do I hate that name) moves to a remote house in the woods to be a nanny for young Rosalie, whose mother recently passed away. Rosalie (she looks to be about 12 years old) lives wither her father and older brother, and right next to their house is a cemetery that always seems to be filled with fog. This Rosalie girl’s a strange kid: she draws scary pictures of people who had attended her mother’s funeral, seems to hate everyone around her (including her new Nanny), and likes to go to the cemetery late at night by herself to talk to something that lurks in the nearby woods.
Like most films distributed by Harry Novak, there’s a couple of stretches here that will test your patience. But it’s worth the wait as KILL AND GO HIDE delivers some genuine chills and a few unexpected gore scenes.

The first time I watched this I was annoyed at the many unanswered questions: Why do these creatures in the woods kill for Rosalie? Where do her telekinetic powers come from? Why does Rosalie need the help of these zombie-like creatures if she’s able to do things such as make a shotgun fire and kill someone on its own? But upon second and third viewings over the years, I learned (as a b-movie addict) to let these things slide and just enjoy the ride.
And what a schlocky-good ride KILL AND GO HIDE is.
For a film where the main character is a 12-year old girl, KILL AND GO HIDE is quite nihilistic. The gloom of the many cemetery sequences spills into the aura of the whole film; you never know for one second if someone is going to live or die (even a sweet little old lady isn’t safe from Rosalie’s wrath). You never know if young Rosalie is going to laugh or freak out and summon either her undead pals or use her psychic abilities to rip a face off or commit patricide. Then again, when we see a young girl feeding cats to graveyard ghouls in the middle of the night, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised at the slightly off-balanced nature of this freaky pre-teen mourner.
While I’ve seen KILL AND GO HIDE advertised as a zombie film over the years (it was also released with under the title ZOMBIE CHILD on VHS at one time), the zombies aren’t the main focus of the film (so if you’re expecting an apocalyptic cannibal attack, you’re going to be disappointed). The zombies here are simply one of several ways Rosalie has of killing (another question I had is just where do these zombies come from? Perhaps Rosalie raised them with her powers?).

Either way, this film is the epitome of a bottom-shelf video store classic; it’s no masterpiece, but it sure does work.
Despite spending perhaps too long searching, attempts to find a picture of the Frightful Flicks VHS hard-shell cover came up empty, although I found the above images quite easily. Something Weird’s DVD version as THE CHILD is loaded with extras, and the film itself looks great and is the best print available today.
Zombie and psycho-children film completists, take note.

--Nick Cato